Improve your life with the Mediterranean diet: key benefits
Inspired by the eating habits of the peoples of the Mediterranean region, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle that promotes healthy nutrition and a sustainable lifestyle. In this article, we’ll explore the key benefits of the Mediterranean diet and how it can significantly improve your quality of life.
Mediterranean diet – long term benefits
Read below on some of the most well studied benefits of the Mediterranean diet:
It decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases by combating the risk factors
Research consistently shows us that the Mediterranean diet is very effective in the fight against cardiovascular disease. A study that followed the health status of 26,000 women over 12 years showed that women who followed the Mediterranean diet had a CVD risk of up to 28% lower. That is likely because the foods included in the Mediterranean diet directly combat the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. The Mediterranean diet:
- lowers the level of inflammation in the body
- lowers blood glucose levels
- lowers blood pressure
- lowers the level of LDL cholesterol
- helps maintain an optimal body mass
The Mediterranean diet is rich in polyphenols (a type of antioxidants), which are believed to play an essential role in the prevention of cardiovascular and neurological diseases and even cancer. We find polyphenols in foods such as fruits (apples, cherries, oranges, strawberries, grapes, etc.), vegetables (onions, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, etc.), wholemeal bread, olives and red wine – foods which are an integral part in the Mediterranean diet.
Another essential food in this diet is extra virgin olive oil, which has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden stroke death by up to 30%.
If you want to know more about what this diet contains and how to adopt it in your everyday life, read our beginner’s guide to the Mediterranean diet.
Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
Another study on people aged 55-80 showed that the Mediterranean diet can also prevent type 2 diabetes. In this study, people who followed this diet had a 52% lower rate of developing type 2 diabetes after a period of 4 years. These people didn’t lose much weight and didn’t exercise more, on average, than the other participants – if diet alone can produce such results, we can only imagine the benefits of an active lifestyle combined with this diet.
It can improve your brain function
The Mediterranean diet may also have beneficial effects on brain health. One study analyzed the brain scans of 70 people who followed the Mediterranean diet in varying degrees for 2 years. People who did not follow the diet had, on average, more beta-amyloid deposits in the brain (protein plaques associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s).
More than that, some studies also showed that age-related diseases are related to the length of a specific part of DNA called the telomere. Telomere length could predict life expectancy and risk of developing chronic diseases later in life – a long telomere would be associated with a reduced risk.
Antioxidant-rich foods found in the Mediterranean diet (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains) help protect telomeres and may ensure a longer life.
It helps you live a long life
The Mediterranean diet increases longevity and can help us age healthily and carefree.
A study of 10,000 women showed that those who followed a Mediterranean-style diet were 46% more likely to age healthily. The study defines “healthy aging” as living over 70 years without facing chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, Parkinson’s, cancer) and without suffering from cognitive or physical decline.
It can help you maintain your weight at an optimal level
The Mediterranean diet can help you reach an optimal weight within the limits recommended by doctors, but also help you maintain it in the long term.
Although it bears the name “diet”, the Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle. If your goal is to lose a lot of weight quickly, this diet is not the solution. The goal of the Mediterranean diet is to promote a long-term lifestyle change that is much more beneficial to your body.
It can improve your sleep
The Mediterranean diet might even influence your sleep quality. This is due to the Omega-3 rich foods present in the Mediterranean diet – they improve the quality of sleep and stimulate the production of melatonin, a hormone essential for our sleep.
Although more studies are needed on this topic, it is possible that regular consumption of fruits, vegetables and legumes can also improve sleep, due to their high fiber and protein content.
It can improve mental health
The Mediterranean diet can bring more than physical health benefits. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, which help the brain function properly. In addition, fiber also helps regulate blood pressure, which is thought to help reduce anxiety or depression.
A nutritious and balanced diet combined with regular exercise can boost our overall well-being, helping us live happier and more energetic lives for a long time.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are recognized by medical institutions worldwide. That’s why the Dahna health and nutrition app brings the Mediterranean diet just a click away from you. Set up your cardiometabolic profile and you will receive menus customized to your needs, based on the basic principles of the Mediterranean diet. Start your journey to a healthy heart and body with Dahna!